Elton John recalls upsetting Rod Stewart over 'Tommy' movie role

News 05/06/2019

Elton John was no stranger to frustrating Rod Stewart, but he recently recalled how he accidentally did just that over the role of the Pinball Wizard character in the Who's 1975 movie 'Tommy'.

John performs the song 'Pinball Wizard' in giant boots while he becomes more and more infuriated by the lead character Tommy, the 'deaf, dumb and blind kid' who 'sure plays a mean pinball'.

He discussed his movie appearances in a new article, saying:

"I’ve been very successful writing songs and soundtracks for films. But I’ve never been very comfortable with seeing myself on a big screen. Amazingly, the director, Hal Ashby, offered me the male lead in Harold and Maude in 1971, but I turned it down: I loved the script, but it seemed like the wrong thing to do at the time. I’ve played myself in a couple of films, none of them exactly Oscar winners: Spice World and a Disney thing called The Country Bears. I suppose my one famous film role was in Tommy, although it didn’t really involve acting, just trying not to fall over while wearing a pair of four-and-a-half-foot Doc Martens,"

He said he initially rejected the idea of the part when he was first offered it. "They contacted Rod Stewart and I told him to turn it down as well. ‘I wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole, dear.’ Then Pete Townshend from the Who rang me and I felt like I couldn’t say no. Rod was absolutely furious: ‘You bitch! You did that on purpose!’ I’ve obviously spent a significant proportion of my life deliberately trying to annoy Rod Stewart – that’s very much the nature of our friendship – but that time it was completely accidental."